When the Yankees hired Aaron Boone out of the broadcast booth to be their manager, he had never held a job in baseball as a coach or manager, or even as a scout or executive.
But it is not quite true that Boone, 45, is completely bereft of coaching experience. For the last five years, he was the defensive coordinator of the mighty Steelers, a youth flag football juggernaut in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he makes his home.
“We used to joke with him when he was interviewing for the Yankees’ job,” said DeAndre Wadlington, a parent of one of the team’s players. “We’d read all this about him not having coaching experience and we’d be: ‘C’mon, man. He coached the Steelers.’ All he had to do was show his résumé.”
Wadlington paused to laugh.
“I told him when he got the job: ‘The Steelers prepared you for this.’”
Wadlington laughed some more, but he might have been on to something. Many of the qualities that parents say they saw Boone exhibit with their boys — upbeat, confident, calm and able to connect with players — are among the reasons the Yankees chose him.
And if you think Yankee Stadium is hyperkinetic in October, try stepping into the caldron of youth sports, with its overbearing parents, grating coaches and emotionally burdened children under the lights on Saturday nights.
“It can get a little testy out there sometimes,” Boone said with a grin.
Might there be an old grainy video of the new Yankee manager misbehaving on the sidelines available somewhere on the internet?
“No,” Boone said, smile still intact. “I think we’re good.”
Shortly after his playing career ended in 2009, Boone got involved in coaching for the same reason many parents do: to bond with his children — Brandon, now 12, and Bella, 8. (He and his wife, Laura, adopted two boys, Jeanel, 15, and Sergot, 13, four years ago.)
While baseball is deeply ingrained in the Boone family — his grandfather Ray; his father, Bob; and his brother Bret also played in the major leagues — Aaron did not see the point of teaching the intricacies of a swing to 6-year-olds. Football, though, carried plenty of appeal. He played the sport from Pop Warner through high school, where he was a speedy receiver, he recalled, but didn’t like to get hit. He remains a passionate fan of the football team at his alma mater, Southern California.